Friday, 30 August 2013

Bank Holiday

We spent a very busy bank holiday weekend in a variety of different ways; Saturday at a Friend’s wedding (congratulations to Dale and Hayley, not forgetting Layla), Sunday soaking the sun at the Colchester cricket festival watching Essex thrash Derbyshire by 102 runs in a YB40 match. We also managed to get home to see the climax of the fifth test.  A bizarre end but probably a fair one and a 3-0 Ashes win! Monday dawned with clear bright skies so there was nothing to thwart our plan of doing a little fishing.

We rolled out of bed when we woke up, no alarm clocks, had tea and toast then set off. Shelley and I picked up my nephew Ollie whom I’ve been promising a fishing trip for some time. We headed deep into the Suffolk countryside to a group of pits that should meet our requirements. I hadn’t visited these lakes for a couple of months so was shocked to find them absolutely choked with duck weed, you could hardly see any water. My first choice area looked unfishable so we had a look at the piranha pool and found enough clear water here to enable us to fish a couple of rods. A couple of handfuls of floating pellets soon had our swim full of hungry Carp, I rigged up two rods to fish floaters while Shelley wandered around with her camera. It didn’t take very long before Ollie was into a fish and the first of many small Common Carp was dragged over the net. After catching one myself I handed my rod over to Shelley then played ghillie for a while, netting, unhooking and baiting up.

After a couple of hours here we moved over to one of the other pits and found an algae free corner where we could soak a couple of boilies, fished over a scattering of pellets. Carp moved in and out of our swim regularly but none seemed to drop down onto our baited spots. I tried feeding floaters again and one or two fish did show an interest but none where feeding confidently. We sat back in our chairs chilling and chatting which for me was much more relaxing and enjoyable than the bedlam of the piranha pool, despite not catching anything. We packed up at lunch time, dropping Ollie at his home before returning to ours for a siesta. 

After demolishing a large pepperoni pizza and a pot of tea we chilled out through the heat of the day. Having topped up the flasks and stashed some more food we ventured out once more, this time our destination was the club pit. I parked the car and we took a slow amble around the pit, it was no surprise to find a few anglers about on this bank holiday Monday but there was still plenty of space for us to go at. The walk around the water provided few fishy clues but I did bump into a friend, Mr P who was just setting up at the far end and we vowed to keep one another up to speed on the fishing via text. By the time we made it back to the car I still hadn’t seen any fish but the moderate North Easterly was pushing into the bay I’d fished last time out, this area was quiet so I was happy to settle in here for the evening, getting the rods out at around 1700.

My right hand rod was the PVA bag mix fished on an inline rig with fake corn as hookbait. The other was the now normal helicopter/snowman rig baited with a boilie and cast into a clear area amongst the far bank trees. This was baited by catapult with about twenty freebies. I was in the process of helping Shelley assemble another helicopter rig when my boilie rod sounded a few beeps. I looked round to see the line pulling tight and having learnt from previous mistakes I swept the rod back and immediately started to drag the fish away from the snags. This I managed easily and I soon had a reasonable weight of fish plodding around in front of me, then all went solid. I kept the pressure on and whatever was on the end came free, at this point I was thinking I’d hooked one of the rare but large Tench that reside in this pit. However I was very surprised to see a large Common Carp materialise in the clear water, before it knew what was happening I had it in the net!

With the fish resting in the net I got all the necessary bits and pieces ready then lifted it onto the mat. The hook was wedged perfectly in the bottom lip but came out easily. I held this cracking fish up for Shelley’s camera before slipping it onto the scales which revealed a surprising weight, my second proper Carp in a couple of weeks! I released it into the clear water and watched it sink away into the weeds, lovely!

A good fish after only five minutes, result! This surely would be the first of many? With things back to normal we got Shelley’s rod out and topped up the spots with more boilies. I text Mr P to let him know and he text back a little while later saying he was into fish too. It was a very pleasant evening chilling out in the fading sun, sipping tea and frying sausages. There were fish in the bay too, I watched two small Carp cruise in virtually under my rod tips; surely we just had to catch more fish? However after another couple of hours had passed only the wildfowl had managed to disturb my baits, annoying Swans and noisy ducks meant I had to recast both rods. Tricky casts amongst the trees combined with my dodgy eyesight meant this was easier said than done!

Around 1930 Shelley’s rod signalled a take but unfortunately her strike met no resistance, somehow the culprit had managed to drop the rig. She got the bait back into position and we sat back to watch the sun sink with renewed confidence, with light fading it just had to happen, didn’t it? Apart from the odd liner we had no more action by packing up time at 2100. That brought a lovely busy, bank holiday weekend to a close. I don’t know when I’ll get out fishing again, hopefully soon.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

In the club

Earlier this year I mentioned my local G.A.P.S. club had made some major changes at the top of their organisation. When I was last a member of this club around a decade ago, it was dominated by a small group of older gentlemen, virtually all match anglers, who had their own agenda and basically ran the club for their own advantage. After witnessing first-hand how that committee conducted itself I decided they wouldn’t be getting any more of my money to fund their nest feathering. 

Last Saturday 17th the club held an open day at one of its fisheries which I attended as part of the day job. The aim of the day was to showcase the club and its waters to attract new members. The day was particularly aimed at juniors and all of those who attended received a free membership on the day, Isaac was one of many to take advantage of this! The open day was a tremendous success from every point of view, everyone in attendance enjoyed themselves, most caught fish and the club got its message across. The new committee is a mixture of anglers from all disciplines, led by Carp anglers but I trust their promise to make G.A.P.S. a club for ALL anglers. I was so impressed by what I saw and heard at the open day, I showed my support by stumping up the cash to join the club.

A couple of days later I made my first fishing trip to a G.A.P.S. water for a decade. My first impressions were unfavourable, there were just too many anglers about but eventually Shelley and I settled into the relative quiet of a bay down the far end. It had been a bright breezy day and the North west wind had pushed down this end of the lake, which is why I chose the area. That and the fact the bay was quiet with no other people around. There were no fish showing to give any clues so the windward end of the lake would do.
So we began fishing, Shelley with the whip and me with two Carp rods. One cast to a bed of lilies in a snaggy corner on my left, this was baited with fake corn and a PVA bag of Maize & Hemp stick. The other rod was a chod & pop up cast to a nice long tree line to my right. This was baited with about a dozen boilies.

We had a pleasant evening chilling out but Shelley’s float didn’t dip and there was no sign of any Carp in the swim…until about 1945 when a decent fish rolled near the pads. Seconds later that rod ripped off and I was attached to a decent Carp, determined to get into the snags. I held on and bullied it out into open water where it took line off the reel. Just when I began to think I had it under control the hook pulled… bugger! I’m not sure how big it was, probably a mid-double by the feel but you never know. I recast with a fresh rig & bag as quickly as I could, feeling a bit deflated to be honest.

As the sky began to darken more Carp began to show in the bay and things looked good for another take. Around 2040 the same rod was off again and I was attached to another Carp determined to get in the snags. This one was smaller and I just got it away from danger when the hook pulled again. I can’t be too disappointed as it really was shit or bust fishing. As daylight was fading fast I decide to give it best and pack up. I’d blanked but my PVA bag mix is as attractive to the Carp as I thought it would be. I think I’m onto a winner here! Also I need to use bigger hooks when fishing near snags… Despite not landing any fish, this was a positive first trip.

A couple of days later I was back. Today was Isaac’s birthday and I was supposed to be elsewhere but family life doesn’t always go to plan so due to an unlikely set of circumstances Madi and I found ourselves at the club pit for an evening fishing. The weather was uncomfortable, grey and gloomy with little or no wind and steady drizzle punctuated only by heavier showers. On one rod I fished the PVA bag mix that had produced takes the other night, this was dropped next to convenient margin features. I moved it around the swim during the evening and never really felt confident in any of the spots I placed it. On the other rod was my favourite helicopter/snowman rig with a finely balanced hookbait cast to a convenient gap in the trees and baited up with about 25 boilies by catapult. With the rods in position the two of us took shelter beneath my little pop up shelter and spent an evening chatting and drinking tea. My daughter and I had a lot to discuss.

The lake seemed dead but to be fair it was difficult to really keep an eye on the water looking out of the bivvy door and peering through the rain. It was a surprise when after about ninety minutes the boilie was picked up and I was into a Carp that was determined to get into the snags. A brief tug of war ensued, my hook pulled and the Carp won, “Bollocks!!!”, “Don’t swear Dad!!!” I got an identical rig back into position as quickly as possible, topping up with another 20 or so freebies. It would have been more but Madi didn’t get the hang of the catapult.

The hands on my watch began to speed up and the light began to fade, it seems to do so quickly at this time of year, especially when I’m fishing. I thought I’d missed my chance once again but at around 2030 the boilie rod signalled another take, I hit it quickly and walked backwards to pull the fish clear of the snags, shit or bust. This time my hook held and I managed to drag the fish into open water but the battle was far from over. This fish was by no means big but refused to go in the net being patiently held by Madi and managed to wipe out my other rod too. Eventually Madi lifted the net under a plump Common Carp and I’d managed to catch my first Carp from this club’s waters since the late eighties.

After Madi done the honours with the camera it was virtually dark now, everything was a mess and I’d forgotten my head torch so there was no real option but to pack away and bundle everything into the car. Had I managed to get the rods out I’m confident I could have bagged another fish but to be honest when I set out I’d have settled for just the one.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Like buses

I arrived at the Marsh at 1930, disappointed to see two cars parked at my favoured end of the lake, surely my area would be stitched up? A brief walk around told me my preferred swim was vacant, only one angler was fishing, the other just watching, I knew both of them and was comfortable settling into the South east reeds. By 2000 I had two rods fishing, a helicopter/snowman rig on the left and a chod rig cast into the open water. I catapulted 25 boilies on top of each one then set about getting the bivvy up and all the kit sorted. For once I had a whole weekend of free time ahead of me, the longest session I’ve been able to spend at the Marsh. The conditions were on my side too, a nice westerly breeze pushed straight into my corner and the day had been relatively cool compared to recent weeks.

All was looking good, there was loads of bubbling in my swim (as usual) and I began receiving liners almost straight away. These may well have been Bream but if a shoal of these move in and feed, I may have some short term inconvenience but felt this feeding activity may draw in the Tench and Carp? My suspicions where confirmed by a twitchy take on the left hand rod which resulted in a Bream of about three pounds. This was quickly unhooked then I got the rig back out there along with another 25 or so boilies pulted on top. Just then I heard a shout from the friendly anglers to my right who pointed out an unwelcome visitor in the form of an Otter which bubbled and boiled through our swims and literally passed underneath my rods before thankfully disappearing. This put a halt to the Bream activity for a while but after an hour or so had passed I began getting the tell-tale beeps on the alarms again. I bade my friendly neighbours farewell about midnight then settled into my kip bag and bedchair for the night.

I was up and about at just after 0500, I had a plan to recast the open water rod to a snaggy area where I’ve seen fish rolling and bubbling during the early morning in the past. This cast landed bang on first time for a change. I’d had a little activity on the left hand rod through the night so recast this rod too with fresh hookbait and another 30 or so freebies. By 0600 I’d noticed there was quite a bit of bubbling in the open water so I quickly rigged up another chod on a third rod and dropped it into that area with another 25 freebies. All the signs looked good, fish bubbling in my area and a nice westerly still blowing into my face, I felt I was in with a good chance so climbed back onto my bedchair and dozed…

At just after 0700 I had a series of beeps on the left had rod and looked up to see the line pulling tight. I was unusually alert and was on the rod quickly, pulling into a heavy fish which heaved the rod tip right over. The fish kited from left to right across my swim, away from the snags and into open water without picking up my other lines. Glancing back to the reedbed I could see a huge cloud of bubbles from where my bait had been cast and another bubble trail leading away from it. By now I’d worked out I was attached to a Carp and it felt pretty heavy. It was under control now, plodding up and down the margins in front of me but unwilling to come up the shelf, which was lucky for me as the margins were a mass of lilies. My old, unfashionable 2.5tc rod had a nice curve and absorbed the lunges of this fish with ease. I’ve had my heart set on catching one of the big Mirrors that inhabit the Marsh so I suppose it was inevitable that it was one of the rarer Commons that surfaced in front of me. The fish rolled and boiled, tantalisingly just out of reach of the net, for several minutes but I eventually managed to drag it over the cord. Get in!!!

I left it in the net while I arranged the mat, set up the camera and tripod then sorted the scales and sling. On lifting the net I was surprised to find it was much heavier than I expected, on the mat lay a big Common Carp! The hook was wedged firmly into the lower lip, it was a great hook hold that wouldn’t have pulled during the fight but came out easily with my fingers. The scales confirmed that not only had I caught my first proper Carp for twenty years, I’d also caught my second PB of this summer! With a bit of thought and planning (thanks Dave!) I managed to shoot a couple of decent photos with the self-timer before I slipped the lovely old Common back into the lake. Bugger me I’d actually caught one!

With the rod recast and a few more boilies pulted on top I settled back onto the bedchair with a big grin. I enjoy challenging fishing so stubborn persistence is probably my best attribute as an angler, I refuse to be beaten and here I finally had my reward.

I was still smiling at 0850 when my long range chod rig literally tore off; before I knew it I had the rod in my hands, fully bent over as I walked backwards steering the fish away from the threat of the snags. This fish wasn’t as heavy as the first and I began to wonder if I’d hooked a big Tench, now that would be a dream brace! Unusually this fish done most of its fighting near the surface and the colour gave it away, it definitely wasn’t a Tench. I soon had this fish in the margins, where like the first it refused to come up the shelf. I eventually netted a strange looking ghostie Common thing. I’m not keen on these ornamental Carp, to me they have no place in ‘natural’ fisheries and I had no idea there were any in this ancient lake. However it had made my heart thump and I enjoyed a tremendous feeling of satisfaction in catching a second Carp from this difficult water. What’s more I felt I was in with a really good chance of catching more.

I spent a lovely day chilling out in the sun, drinking lots of tea (Carpy cliché) whilst listening to TMS, England battling back in the test match with quick wickets after a poor first innings batting. The conditions were still good, bright and breezy with the wind still blowing into my chops. Good conditions for another fish or two? I decided to try something different so wound in the open water chod rig, attached a PVA bag of crushed boilies and whacked it as far into the lake as I could. Meanwhile, back at the test match the Aussies were putting a good partnership together and England were feeling the pressure…

I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon spent chilling out with TMS as company. A Kingfisher zipped around and at one point threatened to perch on my rod before changing course. A family of Grebes were feeding close to my swim, picking off the surface dwelling Rudd which regularly leapt out to avoid the birds. At the other end of the lake two anglers began setting up for the night and away to my right another was trying to feed floaters. The ducks and gulls were making his life very difficult… I was marking time before the sun began to set when I felt my chances of more Carp or Tench would increase.

Shelley arrived in the evening, bringing fish & chip supper with her. With all three rods rigged and ready we sat chatting, putting the world to rights as usual. A fish (Carp or Tench) leapt near the snags and there were plenty of bubblers in the open water but not as much as the previous evening. By the time the sky began to darken all three of my rods had been recast and rebaited and I was completely happy with how I was fishing. The sunset behind the old trees made spectacular patterns of light and dark, then later on we were treated to a big clear sky full of stars. By 2300 it had become quite cool so we both retired to our sleeping bags for the night, Shelley commandeered the bivvy so I moved my bedchair into a little pop up shelter I’ve had for years but rarely use.

I’d hardly settled when I had a twitchy take on the open water rod, I was out of the bag quickly but whatever had caused the commotion was long gone. Around 0245 my left hand rod wouldn’t stop beeping either, as expected a Bream had hooked itself but this one was a lot bigger than the one I’d landed the previous night. Had I been less tired I may well have got the scales and camera out again but it was easier in the circumstances to unhook it in the water and get the rod back out there quickly. I dozed through the rest of the dark hours but was awake just after 0500 to recast the open water and left hand rods as both of these had been tired casts in the dark and I wanted to be certain they were in the right places. The morning was overcast and calm and there were far fewer bubblers in the swim than I would normally expect. Things definitely didn’t look as good as the previous morning so I climbed back into the bag.

I was up again at 0830 by which time there was a brisk wind blowing into the swim once again. With Shelley also stirring it was time to fire up the stove for a much needed cup of tea followed by sausage sarnies for breakfast. The wind kept piling into my swim but by the time breakfast was finished I felt the best chance of a fish had come and gone so began slowly tidying up. A twitchy take on the open water rod interrupted me and I swept the rod back to nothing… or was there? A Roach of about 8ozs came wriggling to the bank and that was my last action of the trip.

So after a gruelling spring and an inconsistent summer I’m very happy to have finally managed to bag myself a big Carp. However I really had my heart set on a big Mirror, no way am I disappointed that it was a Common because it gives me the excuse to keep fishing the Marsh. However the summer is passing by quickly, autumn is around the corner now so that big Mirror might have to wait until next year now. We’ll see.